Report: Coax Still Rules Broadband

The ongoing popularity of so-called "master planned communities" (MPCs) in the U.S. heralds growth in broadband services to home users, according to a recent report from In-Stat/MDR.

Sadly, though, this growth could be hampered by several factors, including a lack of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) facilities.

Nearly 75 percent of residential MPC developers surveyed for the report said the homes they're building in new developments contain broadband links. But most access links are cable-based, in part because the cost of FTTH is still comparatively high.

Upshot? Even though service revenues in MPCs are set to grow on average more than 60 percent annually for the next five years, most services will run over hybrid fiber coax (HFC) networks.

"Currently fiber accounts for ~18% of deployments. I expect to see HFC deployments account for a larger share of connected homes than FTTH throughout the forecasted period," writes In-Stat/MDR analyst Amy Cravens, in an email today.

There are other potential roadblocks to the provisioning of sophisticated "triple play" voice, data, and video services in MPCs, according to the report. These include developers' lack of expertise in broadband services (which may in turn lead them to opt out of fiber on price alone) and the traditionally slow pace of development buildouts. Another deal-stopper is the absence of the kinds of services that might encourage the use of fiber.

Indeed, some observers have expressed concern about the slow stateside adoption of residential broadband. Compared with other nations, such as China and Korea, the U.S. is far behind (see Is a Bubble Building in Asia?).

Some FTTH proponents say recent legislation could help promote the use of fiber, but this view has met with skepticism in other quarters (see Fiber Players Giddy Over FCC Ruling).

— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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opto 12/5/2012 | 12:29:44 AM
re: Report: Coax Still Rules Broadband Since when is HFC NOT fiber? The implication is that "sadly" fiber is not going into these developments. Perhaps the author might wish to do a little research on HFC. (There is a little matter of what the "F" represents). That or change this publication's name to "TelcoLightreading".

Seriously though, it is time to recognize the major force in broadband is CableCo's putting in fiber. They are building now to a max of 500 homes per node, frequently down to 125. They put in FAR more fiber in the local loop each day than telco's. The reason is clear - telco's have lost the marketing battle for broadband-based services, so telco's just don't need the bandwidth fiber enables. Telco's are nonexistent in video, and an also-ran in consumer broadband. Fiber is still more cost effective when you go past a couple miles from the CO, so they use it there (DLC's), but not really because it is high bandwidth, more because it is cheaper even only for POTS. Where it not for their superior position in business broadband in terms of plant in place and presence with that market segment, they'd be toast altogether.

Anyone who does not see this is not reading the research that is available. Telco's keep ratcheting up the prices on POTS, and will drive cableco's to offering that seriously as well. In 20 years, CableCo's will own the consumer, and Telco's will have morphed into broadband to the business, (and will use that to underwrite their rural POTS mandate which will not go away), or, they will be gone. The deal was over the day CableCo's discovered AMVSB optical transmission systems worked. There was nothing the Telcos could have done except what Pac Bell tried to do - build with the clearly superior consumer network technology - HFC.

The deal is done, and now the actors are acting out a script already written. They might pretend not to know the end game, but it is only pretending on their part.
lightreader 12/5/2012 | 12:29:35 AM
re: Report: Coax Still Rules Broadband the telco's are DEAD in the coming residential
broadband business....there is not way on earth
they can ever have a credible video solution.
Without video, and broadband residential package
is running on one leg....cable co's will continue
to outpace them, this is just the start, so it
looks a bit respectable...10 years from now,
telcos will be commercial broadband-only...they
can whine and play around with legislation to
ward of IXC's from the UNE-P shenaningans, but
realistically, they realize that it is futile for
them to really try to take on the cable co's
head on..they just want to milk their residential
copper for as long as possible and then demise
in the residential business....10 years...like
mike tyson, it is over..
lr_fan 12/5/2012 | 12:29:35 AM
re: Report: Coax Still Rules Broadband Total agreement
wei48221 12/5/2012 | 12:29:34 AM
re: Report: Coax Still Rules Broadband What about systems from Concurrent / Next Level Communications? They seem capable of delivering streaming video over teleco's network?
optical Mike 12/5/2012 | 12:29:31 AM
re: Report: Coax Still Rules Broadband I believe presently the systems that do deliver streaming video but the offer 1 to 3 channels along with the data and pots line, and even that is on a pristine plant which is by far the norm when the speaking about the copper (twisted pair) plant.
By contrast the cable companies have been upgrading their networks for the last 5-7 years are now 90% complete. While working on an HFC system 5 years ago I was able to witness first hand operators install the system on older existing 20-year-old plants and the obstacles that had to be overcome. They could see the light at the end of the tunnel and put the time and expense into the networks and we can all see the advancements they are making in the data market. Now they are turning up POTS service and are making decent progress.

Personally the only future I see for the copper network is if the treasury comes out with some collectable pennies like they did with the quarters and the price of copper rises significantly then I could see some value in the copper network.

Garam Masala 12/5/2012 | 12:29:20 AM
re: Report: Coax Still Rules Broadband HFC is only an interim solution. Eventually fiber will migrate into the home. Copper should be left to the power utilities.

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 12:29:20 AM
re: Report: Coax Still Rules Broadband HFC is FTTH. HFC is also PONS.

Stating FTTH=HFC is incorrect, though saying HFC=PON is a fair statement.

PS. Consumers also want fair use, gadgets, etc., and the content is only variable, albeit an important one, in that equation.
whyiswhy 12/5/2012 | 12:29:20 AM
re: Report: Coax Still Rules Broadband The main reason HFC will win is that as a system, it can deliver more content bandwidth cheaper. The main technical reason is the video (content) is not switched nor routed, like it has to be to run over Copper.

Data is a side play for HFC. Content rules in the consumer market.

HFC is FTTH. HFC is also PONS.

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 12:29:18 AM
re: Report: Coax Still Rules Broadband Copper should be left to the power utilities.

The trend is that the Cu is being left to the regulators and lobbyist. (Think of it as a farm bill type policy). The RBOCs are moving to wireless for access and to private and unregulated fiber for their backbones. Paranoid Grove and his INTC is trying to get in on that monopoly deal by forcing Centrinos down everyone's throat.
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 12:29:16 AM
re: Report: Coax Still Rules Broadband And one more thing about how things seem to be trending.

On the productivity side: It seems analagous to the popular CBS serious Survivor. The FCC and the Feds are playing the role of CBS, while INTC, MSFT and DELL have formed the alliance to vote everyone else off the island. Most everyone else doesn't really care that they will be voted off because their execs and upper mgmt. already purchased their vacation homes and are willing to lose the game. (or worse, don't even realize what game they are playing.)

In the final show, Dell will be betrayed and voted off the island by Grove and Gates. The RBOCs will split the prize money between MSFT and INTC, but take all the productivity for themselves. (Note: they'll hand over the Cu and their large staffs to the states after bankrupting them.)

On the entertainment side: It's too schizophrenic for any sane group to come out on top. Gadgets will win but nobody will make any money (other than China).
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